By Uche Amunike
After a six-week trial at the Old Bailey, Nigeria’s former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, his wife Beatrice Ekweremadu and their doctor, Obinna Obeta of an organ trafficking plot, after facilitating a young street trader’s trip to the United Kingdom (UK), with the intention of exploiting him to give up his kidney for his 25-year old ailing daughter, Sonia, who suffered from kidney failure.
Recall that the young man, simply known as Daniel, who was brought to the UK last year to give up his kidney through an £80,000 private transplant at the Royal Free Hospital in London.
According to the prosecution, he was offered £7,000 as well as other opportunities in the UK. He however realized the true picture of things when he met doctors at the hospital.
The defendants allegedly tried to convince the doctors at the Royal Free Hospital that the young man was Sonia’s cousin. Recall that Sonia was placed on weekly dialysis due to her kidney failure, but was not in any way, related to the man.
The Royal Free consultant, Dr Peter DuPont stated that it is illegal to donate a kidney in the UK under such circumstances, but it is even criminal if there is a reward of money or other material benefits attached to it. After learning that the donor did not receive any counseling or advice about the risks involved with the surgery and the fact that he was financially incapacitated to handle the lifelong care that he would need in the future, concluded that the donor was not suitable for donation of his organ to Sonia.
The prosecutor, Hugh Davies KC, maintained that Senator Ike Ekweremadu and Dr Obeta treated the young Daniel as ‘disposable assets- spare parts for reward’ by going into an ‘emotionally cold commercial transaction’ with him, further stating that the politician’s conduct depicted ‘entitlement , dishonesty and hypocrisy.’
He stated that Ekweremadu ‘agreed to reward someone for a kidney for his daughter – somebody in circumstances of poverty and from whom he distanced himself and made no inquiries, and with whom, for his own political protection, he wanted no direct contact.’
He also said that ‘what he agreed to do was not simply expedient in the clinical interests of his daughter, Sonia, it was exploitation, was criminal. It is no defence to say he acted out of love for his daughter. Her clinical needs cannot come at the expense of the exploitation of somebody in poverty.’
According to investigations, the young man fled from the UK and had it really rough sleeping on the streets for days till he summoned the courage to walk into a Police station in Staines, Surrey, in tears. He narrated his ordeal to the Police and explained his fears about the discovery he made from the doctor in the UK hospital that the Ekweremadus took him to.
His words: ‘The doctor said I was too young but the man said if you do not do it here he would carry me back to Nigeria and do it there.‘
The court gathered that Senator Ike Ekweremadu already started to search for another kidney donor in Turkey.
Their conviction was the first of its kind under the Modern Slavery Act.